Spartans flex muscles in victory over NL
North Schuylkill - possibly playing to its ability for the first time this season - rolled over Northern Lehigh 42-6 on Friday night.
It was a night that looked very bright at the onset for the Bulldogs when they scored first.
Bailey Smith found a crack in the North Schuylkill line on a Spartan punt attempt and practically took the ball off the foot of North Schuylkill’s punter Gavin Mentzer. He then raced 40 yards to put Northern Lehigh up 6-0 just three minutes into the game.
But the Spartans scored the next six touchdowns to cruise to the victory. They used the talents of sophomore quarterback Caden Mengel to do much of their damage.
Mengel ran the run/pass/option attack to near perfection. His ability to read the Northern Lehigh defense keyed the entire attack.
“He’s learning and he’s seeing the field,” North Schuylkill coach Wally Hall said of Mengel. “We want to get (the ball) out quickly, whether throwing to our backs, looking to go deep or just to put the ball in the middle of the field.”
And if that’s not open, Mengel runs or gets it to senior Jaxson Chowansky. The fireplug running back hit the end zone twice; one on a 14-yard pass, his second a 15-yard run.
“They present a lot of problems,” Northern Lehigh Joe Tout said. “They’re a big, talented football team. We did a solid job but when you see that speed, it’s difficult to match up with it, even in practice.”
As for Mengel, he racked up an impressive night of running and passing. The 6-1, 180-pounder was 20-for-39 passing for 249 yards and he ripped off 142 yards rushing.
“We’re growing more each week, schematically and offensively,” Hall said.
Mengel drove the Spartans to their first score, with a 4-play drive that ended when he fired a spiral to fleet-footed senior Joey Flail for a 42-yard touchdown.
Senior running back Ricky Halford dashed into the end zone on an 8-yard scoot to up the lead 14-6.
Chowansky latched onto a 14-yard pass in the flat to cap a 59-yard drive and up the score to 21-6.
Mengel hit Collin McGee with a beauty of a 19-yard touchdown pass lifting North Schuylkill to a 28-6 halftime lead.
“We tried to make some adjustments, but they kept finding the open man, and (Mengel) was so effective for them. He did a great job of reading,” Tout said.
North Schuylkill scored on its first two possessions of the second half to kick in the running clock. Halford hit the end zone on a 13-yard run, before Chowansky capped the evening’s scoring.
RECORDS ... The Spartans are 4-1, while Northern Lehigh falls to 2-3.
GROWING AS WELL ... Don’t overlook Tout’s club. They’re on the verge of getting over the hump. After playing up in class against North Schuylkill this squad can grind it out the remainder of the way. The Bulldogs - the defending District 11 Class A champions - can make the playoffs with a strong second half of the season.
SPEEDY GONZALES ... Dang can these Spartans fly. They put a lot of pressure on the opposing defenses. Flail, the Schuylkill League 200-meter champion last spring in track and field, can motor and North Schuylkill spreads the ball to all its backs and receivers.
BIG STEP UP ... Mengel moved into a starting role after the second game of the season, replacing returnee Trevor Minalda. The latter caught three passes as a wide out for 38 yards.